Polish culinary blogs and forums argue about the origin of this delicious onion cakes. Well, I don’t think this a proper translation for Cebularze. However, it seems to be ok, so you know what I’m thinking about. Some say that they come from Lublin (eastern part of Poland), others that they are from Zamosc (further down the eastern part of Poland), and others that they come from Podlasie (north-eastern part of the country)... I was just trying to track the history of these scrumptious onion cakes and found a legend...
A legend says that they the first onion cakes were baked by Jews. Their origins date back to the time of the King of Poland, Kaziemierz the Great. Apparently, they were baked for the king by his mistress, Esterka....
In the nineteenth century, from a typical homemade appetiser, the onion cakes became the pearl of Jewish bakery in the Old Town in Lublin and Wieniawa (the towns in Poland). People say that before the WWII, onion cakes were like a big tortillas riddled in the middle. Probably riddled with knife and sprinkled with the onions. In this place the tortilla was very thin and crispy, and the rims were puffy. Apparently, it was mouth watering to have one of those tortillas, freshly baked and hot, and with thin layer of butter spread.
Cebularze were baked before the war in Kazimierz, Piaski, Szczebrzeszyn. Today, dozens of bakery bakes them in the region.
Original recipe contains specific type of plain flour (I don’t think this is available abroad, and can’t even find the proper translation), yeast, milk, egg, salt and sugar, and butter well. And the shape of the cake is very important. The ones from Podlasie are more like little bake rolls stuffed with lightly fried onions. And sour cream is added, they are cut with a glass, and the onions are fried together with salt, pepper and marjoram.
We used the most traditional recipe possible, found here. However, because we didn’t have any poppy seeds at home and we’re not really a fans of it, we used a few other ingredients that composed in beautifully. So, our version of ‘cebularze’, includes ...
250g of wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
A large bunch of spring onions
2 tablespoons of oil
3 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper
Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a little hole and pour some warm milk (room temperature), pour the sugar and yeasts. Gently stir it. Sprinkle lightly with flour and leave for 15 minutes - until yeast starts to work. In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan. Once cooled, pour the butter and salt into the bowl. Beat the egg lightly. Leave a little to grease the dough and pour the rest into the flour. Gradually pour the milk and stir. Knead the dough with your hands for few minutes until elastic. Put the kneaded dough into a bowl greased with oil, cover and leave in a warm place to rise. The dough should double in volume. We took about 1.5 hours in a warm place (near boiler).
In the meantime, chop the spring onions. Fry the onion in small amount of oil along with the squeezed garlic and chilli flakes. When the onion has softened add salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to cool.
Divide the risen dough into 6 equal parts. Form a ball and with your hands flatten them (lie a pizza dough). Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Smear each cakes’ rims with the remaining egg. Stuff the middle with fired onions and garlic. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
These savoury onion cakes are great with a lager while watching your favourite film...